Signers of Open Government Pledge elected to state House, Tulsa County court clerk
Tulsa County's new court clerk and three new state representatives promised prior to Tuesday's election to support the right of Oklahomans to be fully informed about their government. In all, five candidates who signed FOI Oklahoma's Open Government Pledge were elected to the state House. When the session begins Feb. 6, they will join seven other legislators who have previously promised to support strengthening the state Open Records and Open Meeting laws.
Since FOI Oklahoma began the pledge in 2008, 184 candidates have signed — with 92, or 50 percent, being elected at least once.
In Tuesday's election, both candidates for Tulsa County court clerk had pledged to comply with the letter and spirit of Oklahoma’s open government laws if elected. Republican Don Newberry won. The Republican incumbent retired.
The court clerk maintains all Tulsa County District Court records, provides personnel for judges, keeps statistics on the filing and disposition of all cases, and collects statutory fines, fees and forfeitures.
In state legislative races, Democrat Mickey Dollens was elected to the House District 93 seat with nearly 60 percent of the vote. He replaces Mike Christian, who ran unsuccessfully for Oklahoma County sheriff.
In two House races, both candidates had signed the Open Government Pledge. Republican Tammy West won the District 84 seat. She replaces Republican Sally Kern, who was term-limited. In District 95, Republican Roger Ford was elected to replace Charlie Joyner, who didn't seek re-election.
Two Republican representatives who had signed the pledge were re-elected.
- Bobby L. Cleveland won the District 20 seat with 71 percent of the vote. In 2015, Cleveland won FOI Oklahoma’s Sunshine Award. His legislation forced the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Athletic Association to comply with the state Open Meeting and Open Records acts.
- Jason Murphey won the District 31 seat with nearly 75 percent of the vote. He received the Sunshine Award in 2011 for his efforts to require the Legislature to comply with the state's open government laws. He joined the FOI Oklahoma board of directors in 2012.
Other House members who have signed the pledge in previous elections:
- District 2: John Bennett, Republican, Sallisaw
- District 44: Emily Virgin, Democrat, Norman
- District 57: Harold Wright, Republican, Weatherford
- District 59: Mike Sanders, Republican, Kingfisher
- District 79: Weldon Watson, Republican, Tulsa
- District 83: Randy McDaniel, Republican, Edmond
In the state Senate, Josh Brecheen, R-Dist. 6, of Coalgate also has signed the pledge.
Joey Senat, Ph.D. Associate Professor OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications Mass Communication Law in Oklahoma